GUEST VIEWPOINT: Celebrating Black History Month

Freddimir Garcia | February 1, 2022

After New Year celebrations wind down, organizations begin their annual discussions on what and how to celebrate Black History Month. Many begin by recognizing the lives and contributions of Black Americans throughout history, while others post messages of recognition on social media. I believe it all has a role to play but it is also as important to celebrate the stories and achievements of the Black community, authentically, while recognizing the impacts of slavery in our U.S. history.

I’d like to take you down a journey about Black History Month, which all started with Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

Dr. Woodson, the Father of Black History, is given much of the credit for Black History Month. Throughout his educational career (he was the second African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard in 1912) he noticed the ignored representation of the black population in textbooks and took it upon himself to change it. He founded the Association for Study of African American Life and History with the mission to create and disseminate knowledge.

Black History Month began as Negro History week by Dr. Woodson in 1926. It was celebrated on the second week of February because it was already a well-celebrated week with the birthday of two great American symbols—Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass. Despite its name, Dr. Woodson never confined Negro History to a week, a month, or an annual cycle.

He intended for us to use this as a springboard for year-round consumption of African American history. In 1986, it was officially established as a national holiday with a clear statement: “The foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of the struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.”

It is said that every journey has its own path, but every journey requires forward movement. And that movement, for all of us, should include recognizing the importance of Black History in pursuit of equality and racial justice.

It isn’t enough to post a Black History Month post. It isn’t enough to highlight a current employee. It isn’t enough to support fair housing mandates. We must dig deeper.

Let’s do all those things by adding ways of showing genuine recognition of Black history. Go ahead and post and don’t disregard the historical struggle; recognize your employees, and don’t forget to state we still have a lot of work to do. Educate yourself on the reality of systemic racism and ways to be antiracist, and lastly, advocate for fair housing while thinking of result-driven ways to eradicate the homeownership gap that exists in our country.

This is a perfect time as we enter a new year to reflect, assess, grow, and act. Once you see, you can’t un-see, and I am confident you will find the opportunity to dig deeper with intention, purpose, and growth.

At the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, we have committed to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion in ways that allow us to authentically celebrate and acknowledge the diversity among our members, staff, and community. It gives me great pleasure as the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer at HGAR to officially launch our Black History Month celebrations.

We hope to share some informative ways of getting involved and plan on hosting a candid conversation at the end of the month with members of our association to reflect on what Black History Month means to them, personally and professionally.

Last month we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who eloquently said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” So, let’s start today!

Freddimir Garcia
Freddimir Garcia is the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.